Virgin Birth in the Wilderness: The Apocryphal Gospel of James for Christmas Eve

This is a continuation of the Christmas Story in the apocryphal Gospel of James [also sometimes called the “Infancy” Gospel” or the Protoevangelium of James].

The Gospel According to James 19–20

19. And then I saw a woman walking from the hills and she said to me, “Man, where are you going? And I said to her, “I am looking for a midwife.” And she answered, “From Israel?” and I said to her, “Yes, mistress.” And She said to me, “Who is the woman who is giving birth in the cave?” and I said, “She is my betrothed.” And she responded, “She is not your wife?” and I said to her, “She is Mary and I drew her as my lot to be a wife, but she was raised in the Holiest of Holies. And she is not my wife, but she has become pregnant from the holy spirit. And she said, “Tell me the truth,” and I told her, “Come and see.” And she left with him.”

They stood were the cave was and there was a cloud shading over it. The midwife said, “My soul is ennobled this day because I recognize a new sight and a miracle—since a savior is born for Israel.” Then, immediately, the cloud withdrew from the cave and a great light appeared in it which our eyes could not bear. Soon, that light too receded until the infant appeared and took the breast of its mother Mary.

Then the midwife shouted out, “Today is a great day because I have seen a new wonder.” And then the midwife left the cave and met Salôme and said to her, “Salôme, Salôme, I have a new wonder to explain to you. A virgin gave birth, a thing which human nature does not allow.” And Salôme said, “As the Lord God lives, if I do not see this—if I do not put my hand into her—I will not believe that a virgin gave birth.”

And Salôme entered the cave and said, “Maria, prepare yourself, for no small test of you is at hand.” Then she examined her. And Salôme yelled out and cried, saying, “Oh, my lawlessness and lack of faith, that I tested the living God. And look, my hand is burning and falling away. Then Salôme bent her knees and said toward her Lord, “the God of our fathers, remember me, that I am the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jakob—do not make an example of me before the sons of Israel, but return my poverty to me. And, look, an angel of the Lord appeared saying to Salôme, “Salôme, Salôme, the Lord God heard your prayer. Come near the child and lift him up and he will be your safety.”

Then Salôme went to the child and lifted him up and said, “Truly, a great king has been born to Israel.” Then she was suddenly healed and she left the cave filled with justice. And, look, a voice sounded out and said, “Salôme, Salôme, do not spread the news of the miracles you have witness around until the child enters Jerusalem.”

19.1 Καὶ εἶδον γυναῖκα καταβαίνουσαν ἀπὸ τῆς ὀρεινῆς καὶ εἶπέν μοι: ἄνθρωπε, ποῦ πορεύῃ; καὶ εἶπον αὐτῇ: μαῖαν ζητῶ. καὶ ἀποκριθεῖσά μοι εἶπεν: ἐξ Ἰσραήλ; καὶ εἶπον αὐτῇ: ναί, κυρία. καὶ εἶπέν μοι: τίς ἐστιν ἡ γεννήσασα ἐν τῇ σπηλαίῳ; καὶ εἶπον ἐγώ: ἡ μεμνηστευμένη μοι. καὶ εἶπέν μοι: οὐκ ἔστι σου γυνή; καὶ εἶπον αὐτῇ: Μαριάμ ἐστιν καὶ ἐκληρωσάμην αὐτὴν εἰς γυναῖκα, ἥτις ἀνετράφη εἰς τὰ ἅγια τῶν ἁγίων: καὶ οὐκ ἔστι μου γυνή, ἀλλὰ σύλληψιν ἔχει ἐκ πνεύματος ἁγίου. καὶ εἶπεν: εἰπέ μοι τὸ ἀληθές. καὶ εἶπον αὐτῇ: ἐλθὲ καὶ ἴδε. καὶ ἀπῆλθεν μετ’ αὐτοῦ. 2 καὶ ἔστη ἐν τῷ τόπῳ τοῦ σπηλαίου, καὶ ἦν νεφέλη ἐπισκιάζουσα ἐπὶ τὸ σπήλαιον: καὶ εἶπεν ἡ μαῖα: ἐμεγαλύνθη ἡ ψυχή μου τῇ σήμερον ἡμέρᾳ, ὅτι εἶδον καινὸν θέαμα καὶ παράδοξον: ὅτι σωτηρίον τῷ Ἰσραὴλ ἐγενήθη. καὶ παραχρῆμα ἡ νεφέλη ὑπεστέλλετο ἐκ τοῦ σπηλαίου, καὶ ἐφάνη φῶς μέγα ἐν τῷ σπηλαίῳ, ὥστε τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς ἡμῶν μὴ φέρειν. καὶ πρὸς ὀλίγον τὸ φῶς ἐκεῖνο ὑπεστέλλετο, ἕως ἐφάνη τὸ βρέφος (καὶ ἦλθεν) καὶ ἔλαβεν μασθὸν ἐκ τῆς μητρὸς αὐτοῦ Μαρίας. (καὶ ἀνεβόησεν ἡ μαῖα: ὡς μεγάλη ἡ σήμερον ἡμέρα, ὅτι εἶδον τὸ καινὸν θέαμα τοῦτο.) 3 καὶ ἐξῆλθεν ἐκ τοῦ σπηλαίου ἡ μαῖα καὶ ἀπήντησεν Σαλώμην, καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῇ: Σαλώμη, Σαλώμη, καινόν σοι ἔχω διηγήσασθαι θέαμα: παρθένος ἐγέννησεν, ὅ οὐ χωρεῖ φύσις ἀνθρωπίνη. καὶ εἶπεν Σαλώμη: ζῇ κύριος ὁ θεός, ἐὰν μὴ κατανοήσω (ἐὰν μὴ βάλω τὴν χεῖρά μου εἰς αὐτήν), οὐ μὴ πιστεύσω, ὅτι παρθένος ἐγέννησεν.

20.1 Καὶ εἰσῆλθεν Σαλώμη καὶ εἶπεν: Μαρία, σχημάτισον σεαυτήν: οὐ γὰρ μικρὸς ἀγὼν περίκειται περὶ σοῦ. καὶ κατενόησεν αὐτήν. καὶ ἠλάλαξεν Σαλώμη καὶ ἐκραύγασε λέγουσα: οὐαὶ τῇ ἀνομίᾳ μου καὶ οὐαὶ τῇ ἀπιστίᾳ μου, ὅτι ἐξεπείρασα θεὸν ζῶντα: καὶ ἰδοὺ ἡ χείρ μου ἐν πυρὶ φλέγεται (ἀποπίπτει). 2 καὶ ἔκλινεν τὰ γόνατα αὐτῆς Σαλώμη πρὸς τὸν δεσπότην λέγουσα: ὁ θεὸς τῶν πατέρων μου, μνήσθητί μου, ὅτι σπέρμα εἰμὶ Ἀβραὰμ καὶ Ἰσαὰκ καὶ Ἰακώβ: μὴ παραδειγματίσῃς με τοῖς υἱοῖς Ἰσραήλ, ἀλλὰ ἀπόδος μοι ἐμὴν ὁλοκληρίαν. 3 καὶ ἰδοὺ ἄγγελος κυρίου ἔστη πρὸς Σαλώμην λέγων: Σαλώμη, Σαλώμη, ἐπήκουσε κύριος ὁ θεὸς τῆς δεήσεός σου: ἔγγισον πρὸς τὸ παιδίον καὶ βάστασον αὐτό, καὶ ἔσται σοι σωτηρία μεγάλη. 4 καὶ προσῆλθεν Σαλώμη καὶ ἐβάστασεν αὐτό, καὶ εἶπεν: ὄντως βασιλεὺς μέγας ἐγεννήθη τῷ Ἰσραήλ. καὶ εὐθέως ἰάθη Σαλώμη καὶ ἐξῆλθεν ἐκ τοῦ σπηλαίου δεδικαιωμένη, καὶ ἰδοὺ φωνὴ λέγουσα αὐτῇ: Σαλώμη, Σαλώμη, μὴ ἀναγγείλῃς, ὅσα εἶδες παράδοξα (ἕως ἔλθῃ εἰς Ἰερουσαλήμ).

Image result for nativity scene cave

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